It’s been 18 months since cannabis was legalized in New Jersey, and while five cannabis businesses had announced plans to open in Hoboken, none have. Recently, signage went up at one dispensary, Blue Violets, located at 628 Washington Street. The Hoboken Girl spoke with Lauren Chang Thompson and Max Thompson, the husband-and-wife team behind the shop for an update. Read on for more about Blue Violets and what to expect once the shop opens.
About Blue Violets
Lauren Chang Thompson and her husband Max Thompson are the team behind Blue Violets. Lauren grew up in Weehawken and is a nurse. She got involved with cannabis when interacting with patients using cannabis to manage pain. “What I realized is that cannabis is plant medicine,” she said. “We can see the positive impacts with patients, hospice, cancer, chronic pain. We want to change the conversation around cannabis.”
Photo credit: Courtesy of Blue Violets
Blue Violets will be Hoboken’s only micro dispensary, a specific business class that limits the size of the shop and how many employees the business can have. Both Lauren and Max describe the space’s petite size at 850 square feet as an asset, in fact, the brand’s tagline is “a thoughtful cannabis experience.”
“Because the store is very small, it will have a spa-like aesthetic. It will be sophisticated, with clean lines,” Max said. “We want guests to enjoy the experience without it being exclusive, but it will be a welcoming and inviting experience.”
Lauren added, “Everyone’s curious about cannabis and people have different previous experiences. We want everyone to feel comfortable coming through and getting educated about what’s available. We want people to come back to us because of the educated choice. We want people to come to us for a more elevated conversation about cannabis.” She said that Blue Violets will have a wellness vibe, which in turn will make it easier to have conversations about cannabis.
Road to Opening
In addition to navigating the new processes of state and local licensing for cannabis businesses, Blue Violets has had to contend with a lawsuit from a citizen advocacy group. Hoboken for Responsible Cannabis (HRC) is an organization led by Liz Urtecho, a Hoboken resident and candidate for the City Council seat for the 5th Ward.
In October 2022, HRC sued Blue Violets and the City of Hoboken Planning Board, seeking to void the Planning Board’s approval of the business. As of this writing in August 2023, the case has yet to be heard as the parties are still working through discovery and jurisdiction issues.
“It’s too bad that all of our energy has been spent talking about this case because we’ve put a lot of thought and energy into the actual business,” Max said. “We’d rather talk about that.” While the case works itself out, Max and Lauren have received state and city approval from the cannabis regulatory boards. The business will need final state and city inspections, like any other new business, but is otherwise nearly ready to open. “We’ve had the security system installed and the main counter installed in the space,” Max said. “We had an informal inspection with the NJCRC, it went well and they indicated some of our security measures go above and beyond what is required under the regulations.”
Blue Violets has also reached an agreement with the City as a Community Host. The community host approval is unique to cannabis businesses and can only be given once the business has been approved by Hoboken’s Cannabis Review Board. Some of the provisions in that agreement echo what is required for the business to maintain its micro status: hiring employees from the community, offering education for the community, and other commitments between the business and the community.
“We are both still working our full-time jobs in addition to launching the business,” Max said. “It’s just a two-person operation. We don’t want to necessarily wait for the lawsuit, [to open] we already have other things at the ready.”
What to Expect
In terms of Blue Violets’ offerings, Lauren will use her scientific and nursing background to focus on what strain of terpenes are in the product. “Terpenes are essential oils from any plant, such as lavender oil, cinnamon oil, etc. It is distilled from the plant matter, in the most pure form, and can be added into other products,” Lauren said. “With cannabis, there can be hundreds of different terpenes in the plant. We want to emphasize education and information about this. It’s less about skinny leaves vs. fat leaves, sativa vs. indica. We want to take a more scientific approach.”
Lauren and Max said that this scientific approach will help them curate the best possible offerings for customers. “To start, we want to build relationships with lab owners. We want to do more testing on the plant matter than what’s required in NJ. We are looking at different terpenes. NJ is now adding a standard for testing and standardizing terpenes.”
Photo credit: Courtesy of Blue Violets
Lauren said she wants to take any and everything to a lab before offering it to customers. “I want to have the latest data, and the most up-to-date testing,” she said. “The packaging matters, light can impact the degradation of the product over time.”
Max said that a fall 2023 soft opening would be likely. “Every day we’re making some progress in the store,” he said. “We’re excited to get going.”